Celebrating Stockton

I’m feeling pretty much like the A’s right now — lousy all over — but I just saw a live interview with Dallas Braden during today’s game against Colorado — A’s are losing (big shock) — and it was cool.

What I’m about to say next is something I never thought I’d say: I like Dallas Braden.

I’ll be honest. I have never been a Braden fan. From my perspective in the rare times I was in the clubhouse, he rubbed me as someone who was more intent on being a flaky, kooky lefty (in the Bill Lee mode) than a solid pitcher. Not sure why. I’d talked to him one-on-one on more than a couple of occasions.

My perspective started to change last fall when I covered a lights-out game he pitched against the Angels in Anaheim. But it is completely a new one after watching this interview.

Braden spent most of it preaching the benefits of giving back to a community, in a way that “you just don’t write a check and go on your way.” He emphasized the rewards of “putting your hands into something and being gifted with the joy you feel inside.” He said were it not for such a support system “from the entire community,” of Stockton, he would not be having the conversation he was having at the moment.

The man gets it. This may sound old-fashioned to some of you, but it really does take a village to raise a kid. I’ve been to Stockton a handful of times during my travels, have taken my son to a Ports game or two, and just in my limited time, you do get that sense of community that you don’t get a lot of other places. Makes it the perfect place, in my mind, for a Single-A club.

Anyway, Braden was fortunate to grow up there, no matter how much you might scoff. I’d argue that our society — especially in these parts — is as selfish and crude and self-serving and cowardly as it has ever been. The examples are everywhere. The problem is, too many folks have their eyes closed to it, because the village hasn’t taught them differently.

That’s why I’ve changed my mind on Braden. He gets it. How can you not like that?!


  • Steve Toomajian

    Hi Rick,
    Thanks for the positive comments on Dallas Braden. It should not be overlooked that his hometown of Stockton gets bashed in a similar way that Oakland gets criticized—for being a high crime city. Living here in the Central Valley, I hear these derogatory comments quite often from folks in towns only 20 miles outside of Stockton. So it is even more noteworthy that Braden has stayed loyal to his roots.
    There are other reasons to like Braden on the field. He is a fierce competitor. He also is a real “pitcher” as opposed to a “thrower.” Then, too, check him out on the bench talking to his fellow starting pitchers as he truly has assumed a leadership role among them.
    —–Steve Toomajian

  • D W

    Braden did get it. Unfortunately, the rest of the team doesn’t get it. The team needs to be more inspired. Obviously, the month of July will determine if we can keep Matt Holliday or if we have to trade him. Should the latter happen, no matter who we acquire, the next acquistion MUST be a better hitter and be able to light a fire under his teammates. It’s the only solution barring better health or a shocking Beane-Geren fallout.

  • Bee Hylinski

    I agree that Dallas Braden gets it–in spades. I think the A’s problem may be a lack of leadership from Bob Geren. He’s so laid back that he doesn’t inspire the team to greatness. If Geren got it, he’d chew on the players when the are not performing well–like now!–and create a culture of excellence in the clubhouse and the dugout. I have criticized others on this blog for bashing Geren, but I am beginning to think they are right.

    Look what happened when Cabrera took matters into his own hands and had a meeting with the position players in the outfield before a game a month or so ago. The result? The guys won seven in a row. We need more of that kind of leadership.